Pro-GOP group takes aim at Senate Democrats over election reform push

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EXCLUSIVE: A conservative outside group with ties to Senate Republican leadership is doubling down on its campaign to weaken support for the congressional Democrats’ wide-ranging election and campaign finance reform bill.

One Nation, the nonprofit advocacy arm of the pro-GOP group American Crossroads, is launching new ads taking aim at S.1 – the Democrats’ bill – arguing that it would put “Washington bureaucrats in charge” of how states run their own elections.

The new spots, shared first with Fox News, target two Democratic lawmakers – Sens. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Mark Kelly of Arizona – who likely will face challenging reelections next year when the Republicans aim to win back the majority in the Senate that they lost in last year’s election cycle. Sen. Jon Tester, who represents the red state of Montana and who’s a key swing vote in the Democratic Senate caucus, is also the focus of one of One Nation’s commercials.

The ads also thank Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia – who hasn’t signed onto supporting the bill, which is top Democratic priority in Congress this year – and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who’s a co-sponsor of the bill but has serious questions about the push by progressives to try and scrap the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation through chamber.

In the spot targeting Kelly, the announcer charges that if the bill becomes a law, it would result in the “gutting of Arizona’s common-sense voter ID requirement and overruling Arizona law. Tell Sen. Kelly to protest our elections. Stop S.1.”

The commercial running in West Virginia claims that “Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Schumer (the Senate majority leader) are pushing a bill to undermine” the state’s election laws. The announcer then notes that “Sen. Joe Manchin is standing up to the D.C. liberals power grab. Tell Sen. Manchin to keep fighting S.1.”

And the announcer in the Sinema spot says, “Tell her to keep protecting the bipartisan 60 vote rule.”

The bill, which narrowly passed through the Democratic-controlled House along party lines earlier this year, now faces an even tougher road in the Senate, where the Democrats hold a razor-thin, one-vote majority. Schumer has vowed to pass the legislation – which would curb new laws passed in GOP controlled states that beef up voting eligibility rules and increase restrictions on voting by mail – but is far short of the 60 floor votes needed to succeed.

The new ads by One Nation are part of a five-figure digital buy, the group tells Fox News. And they follow a large, seven-figure advocacy ad blitz the group launched two weeks ago. One Nation is the latest outside group or GOP committee to take aim at the congressional Democrats’ election and campaign finance legislation, following the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the advocacy wing of the influential conservative Heritage Foundation.

The conservative advocacy group One Nation is doubling down on its campaign to weaken support for the congressional Democrats’ wide-ranging election and campaign finance reform bill, launching new ads taking aim at S.1 – the Democrats’ bill – arguing that it would put "Washington bureaucrats in charge" of how states run their own elections.

Democrats highlight that their bill would “improve access to the ballot box” by creating automatic voter registration across the country and by ensuring that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full voting rights restored. The bill would also expand early voting and enhance absentee voting by simplifying voting by mail. There was a surge in absentee voting during last year’s primaries and general election due to health concerns of in-person voting at polling stations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

If passed into law, the bill would also enhance federal support for voting system security, increase oversight of election system vendors, upgrade online political ad disclosure and require all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors, create a multiple matching system for small-dollar donations, which would be paid for by a new surcharge on “corporate law breakers and wealthy tax cheats,” tighten rules on super PACs, and beef up the enforcement powers of the Federal Election Commission.

Republicans slam the measure, saying it would lead to a federal government takeover of elections and accuse Democrats of trying to change election rules to benefit themselves. But Democrats say the measure is needed to combat the move by GOP lawmakers in some states where Republicans control the governor’s office and the legislature – such as Georgia, Florida, Texas and Arizona – to pass bills that would tighten voting laws, which Democrats characterize as voter suppression.

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